I am a cognitive psychology PhD candidate at UCLA working mainly under Hongjing Lu and Keith Holyoak. Broadly, I am interested in conceptual representations. Just as the word "dog" is a linguistic entity that is distinct from but that represents a kind of thing - namely, dogs - conceptual representations are mental entities that are distinct from but that represent things or kinds of things. Humans are able to flexibly think and reason about a whole lot of things: themselves and others, their environment, fictional environments, abstractions (e.g. mathematical systems), etc. Conceptual representations can be thought as the mental entities through which thoughts are "about" these things, and they are integral to a lot of psychological explanations. Specifically, I am interested in what phenomena like analogical reasoning, metaphor comprehension, and causal reasoning indicate about the flexibility of the human cognitive system and its representations.


  • UCLA PhD Cognitive Psychology (in progress)
  • LSE MSc Philosophy of the Social Sciences (2016)
  • NYU BA Psychology (2012)


Bayesian Analogy with Relational Transformations (BART)

The BART project examines a particular kind of mental representation, one that allows humans to understand various entities as being related to each other in various ways. This ability includes, for example, being able to see that the following entities instantiate the italicized relations: that a spear is a kind of weapon, that gluttony is an excessive form of eating, that the value 10 is 2 plus 8or 2 more than 8. We are modeling the emergence of these representations at the computational level and are examining to what extent aspects of this computational account can predict human behavior and neural activity.


  • Chen, D., Lu, H., & Holyoak, K. J. (2017). Generative inferences based on learned relations. Cognitive Science. 41, 1062-1092.[PDF]
  • Chen, D., Lu, H., & Holyoak, K. J. (2015). Learning and generalizing cross-category relations using hierarchical distributed representations. Proceedings of the 37th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. [PDF]
  • Chen, D., Lu, H., & Holyoak, K. J. (2014). The discovery and comparison of symbolic magnitudes. Cognitive Psychology, 71 , 27-54. [PDF] [MATLAB code]
  • Chen, D., Lu, H., & Holyoak, K. J. (2013). Generative inferences based on a discriminative Bayesian model of relation learning. Proceedings of the Thirty-five Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. [PDF]
  • Lu, H., Chen, D., & Holyoak, K. J. (2012). Bayesian analogy with relational transformations. Psychological Review, 119(3), 617-648. [PDF] [MATLAB Code]


  • Stamenkovic, D., Ichien, N.T., & Holyoak, K.T. (2019). Metaphor comprehension: An individual differences approach. Journal of Memory and Language, 105, 108-118.
  • Telzer, E.H., Ichien, N.T., & Qu, Y. (2015). Mothers know best: Redirecting adolescent reward sensitivity to promote safe behavior during risk taking. Social Cognitive Affective Neuroscience, 10, 1383 -1391. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsv026
  • Telzer, E.H., Ichien, N.T., & Qu, Y. (2015). The ties that bind: Group membership shapes the neural correlates of ingroup positivity. NeuroImage, 115, 42-51. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.04.035